Veterans at Standing Rock

Veterans apologized to tribal leaders for past misdeeds committed against Native Americans by the U.S. military. Photo by Mark Boster, Los Angeles Times.

At a time when so much of the nation is divided by politics and ideology, the protest against the Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota forged an unlikely coalition of veterans, Native Americans, and environmentalists who produced an even more unlikely outcome.

Sandy Tolan‘s story from Cannon Ball, ND, appeared in the Los Angeles Times on December 11. It’s a moving account of an emotional encounter.

DAPL protest camp

A blizzard hit the main protest camp the same day that the Army Corps of Engineers decided not to grant the permit required to complete the Dakota Access Pipeline.

In his latest story from North Dakota for the Los Angeles Times, Sandy Tolan asks what we can expect now that the Army Corps of Engineers has declined to approve a permit that Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the Dakota Access Pipeline, needs in order to finish construction along the planned route.


Police advance on protesters

Police advance on protesters as helicopters hover overhead. Photo by Sandy Tolan.

Sandy Tolan was in North Dakota today as police and National Guard troops marched in to break up the protest over the proposed Dakota Access oil pipeline.

He writes: “The protesters faced down the advancing forces with prayers, songs and torrents of declarations, including ‘Water is life!’ and ‘We will stand our ground!'”

You can read his story in the LA Times.


A group of youth demonstrators marching from Cannonball River to the Oceti Sakowin Campground. (Photo: Jacqueline Keeler)

A group of youth demonstrators marching from Cannonball River to the Oceti Sakowin Campground. Photo by Jacqueline Keeler (@jfkeeler).

Sandy Tolan is headed back to North Dakota, where he recently covered the protests by members of the Standing Rock Sioux and their supporters against the proposed 1,172-mile Dakota Access oil pipeline.

In his October 18 story in, Sandy describes the tense standoff between police and the thousands of protesters who have set up camp at the site. Opposition to the $3.78 billion project, nicknamed “the black snake,” has brought together indigenous, environmental, and climate activists around the world.

“At times I felt like I was back reporting in the West Bank, not in the Northern Plains,” he writes.

You can also listen to an interview with Sandy on PRI’s Living on Earth, which includes sound he recorded at the site and clips of protest leaders.

One of Los Angeles’ NPR affiliates, KCRW, has launched Bear and Rux’s year-long multi-platform project about aging in the city’s working-class and immigrant neighborhoods. “Going Gray in LA: Stories of Aging along Broadway” is part of the station’s Independent Producer Project.

Latino elders enjoy the weekly dance at the Lincoln Heights Senior Center.

Latino elders enjoy the weekly dance at the Lincoln Heights Senior Center.

The first two radio stories (from the historic Latino neighborhood Lincoln Heights), a couple of photo essays, and some additional content is available on the project website.

Please check back every few weeks, as KCRW will be airing new stories and adding content to the website through next spring. “Going Gray in LA” is funded by the Eisner Foundation.



Homelands co-founder Sandy Tolan, author of the book Children of the Stone, is touring the eastern U.S. this fall with the book’s protagonist, the Palestinian musician Ramzi Aburedwan. They’ll be joined by Ramzi’s Arab/French fusion ensemble Dal’Ouna.

As a boy, Ramzi threw stones at Israeli tanks in the occupied West Bank. Sandy’s critically acclaimed book describes how he grew up to build music schools for Palestinian children.

The tour celebrates the release of Children of the Stone in paperback. You can donate and learn more on the tour’s Indiegogo campaign page.

A girl from the Shipibo ethnic group plays in the Cantagallo neighborhood of Lima, Peru.

A girl from the Shipibo ethnic group plays in the Cantagallo neighborhood of Lima, Peru. Photo by Bear Guerra.

The photo above, from a 2015 story by Bear Guerra and Ruxandra Guidi published in Americas Quarterly, has won a prestigious American Photography award.

The piece, “Indigenous Residents of Lima’s Cantagallo Shantytown Confront an Uncertain Future,” describes how 200 families from an Amazonian group are facing eviction from their settlement along the polluted Rimac River in Peru’s capital. The families were pushed off their original territory in 2000 by logging and mining activities.

Bear and Rux have been collaborating for several years under the name Fonografia Collective. They recently moved from Quito, Ecuador, to Los Angeles to work on a year-long project about aging in LA for the public radio station KCRW.

Caroline votes

Residents of Caroline, in central New York, head to the voting booth in Town Board elections in November 2011. The vote would determine whether or not the town would allow fracking for natural gas. Photo by Jonathan Miller.

If the current presidential race has soured you on the democratic process, you might seek solace in the latest episode of Scene on Radio, an excellent podcast produced by our old pal John Biewen at Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies. The episode reprises two stories from Groundwork: Democracy Close to Home, an hour-long special hosted by NPR’s Scott Simon that first aired on public radio stations in July 2012.

The first piece, reported by John, dives deep into the heart of a small fishing community in Alaska as it searches for ways to respond to unimaginably big changes in the ocean on which it depends. The second piece, by our Jonathan Miller, follows the intense (and ultimately transformative) debate over fracking in a small upstate New York town.

Jonathan’s story starts at about 11 minutes. But listen to the whole thing; John’s piece is terrific.